Best Ice Skating Locations for Winter Fun in New Zealand
Ice skating is an accessible alternative in the winter to skiing, so get your skates on and give it a go. Here are some of our picks for the great ice rinks around New Zealand. If you are living in Auckland, there are two indoor year-round venues: Paradice Ice Skating has rinks in Botany, East Auckland, which is handy to East Tamaki car rental depots. There's also Paradice Avondale, inner west Auckland, about 15 minutes from the CBD. At this time of the year, Aotea Square, the 'town square' of Auckland, and an extension of performing arts venue, the Aotea Centre, sets up a temporary outdoor rink. This is run by Paradice, and includes a 35 metre-long double lane ice slide.
Top picks for the great ice rinks around New Zealand
Indoor venues are fine for convenience, but all of these places can get pretty crowded, especially in peak times such as school holidays. Once we had the basics mastered, more adventurous venues beckoned. Our favourite is at Tekapo Springs, in the Mackenzie country. Tekapo is around a three-hour drive from Christchurch, an easy and scenic trip taking in some of Canterbury's best braided rivers and bridges. The Tekapo Springs resort also offers hot pools, and a tube park. Tekapo is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, so the stars at night are spectacular. It's also handy to the Roundhill Ski Fields, a family friendly ski resort.
Other venues on the list to try are in Otago. A traditional ice sport in Central Otago is curling, a sport brought to New Zealand by gold-rush era Scottish immigrants. It has continued through the generations, but was an impromptu affair only possible in the full grip of winter when ponds and dams through the region froze over.
Today there is a full Olympic- standard, dedicated indoor curling rink available all year round for professionals and amateurs alike in Naseby, around a two-hour drive from either Queenstown or Dunedin. Naseby also has an outdoor winter rink for skating, ice-hockey or curling and is home to New Zealand's only ice luge.
Just up the road in Alexandra, about an hour's travelling time from Queenstown, is the Iceinline Sports Complex. It boasts the Southern Hemisphere's largest outdoor ice rink, a full 60 x 30 metre Olympic ice hockey arena. The rink is open from mid-May to mid-August for casual visits, lessons and skate hire.
Locals still enjoy wilderness skating at the Manorburn Dam when it freezes over, ten minutes north of Alexandra. Obviously, for safety reasons, you will want to get some expert local advice on the condition of the ice before you try it, and you'll need your own skates.
The same spontaneous spirit abides at the Fairlie community-run ice rink. Since 1934, this rink behind the Fairlie domain, has been open to skaters when weather permits. 2015 was one of the best years in a while; in other years when the ice base is weaker, parts of the rink are cordoned off for safety. Fairlie is around two and a half hours drive from Christchurch, on the way to Tekapo, or just an hour from Timaru.
As you would expect, all the southern main centres have an indoor rink: Dunedin has the 'Ice Stadium, a rink built inside a former Dunedin stadium. It is used for skating, curling and is home to the Dunedin Thunder ice hockey team. Queenstown has an international sized rink open from April to November.
Make sure to let us know your favourite venues for the best ice skating rinks around New Zealand!